High 5 Running ClubPhoto: high5runningclub.com

Ever wish there was a way to connect with other runners beyond the old grimace-and-nod as you breeze by? For many fitness enthusiasts, hitting the gym or the park solo can be an isolating and lonely experience. Enter the High 5 Running Club (aka H5RC), an awesome new way for joggers to feel less like a lone wolf and more like part of a fun-loving pack.

The creators of H5RC — Oxford University running buddies Dan Ross-Jones, Omar Haroun, Conor Keough, and David Reyk — want everyone to feel social and motivated while running — and what better way to achieve this than with an unexpected high five from a stranger? The club started small; the founders tried high five-ing random runners on their daily jogs and were rewarded with plenty of smiles (and some confused looks). Often, people didn’t know what was going on, Haroun says — but when they recognized the friendly gesture, they high fived right back. To make their goal clearer, the founders started printing t-shirts emblazoned with a handprint.

Why It Matters

Now, H5RC has bigger goals in mind: They want to bring the running community together both digitally and in the flesh. To get solo joggers to interact more, they’ve scheduled five global High 5 Running Club Days per year, on which H5RC members around the world will wear the club’s t-shirts and high five other runners to spread the love. The first official H5RC Day is January 1, 2013 — just in time to start a New Year’s Resolution with a smile. Haroun hopes that with time, members of the H5RC will be able to “high five” via Facebook and Twitter as well as in real life.

The Takeaway

Want to get involved? Head to the H5RC site or Facebook page and order a high-quality performance t-shirt with the trademark ink handprint. They’ve also got an Indiegogo campaign for anyone who wants to support the initiative. (Bonus: the company is donating a percentage of the profits to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.) Technically, the shirt isn’t necessary (people can still high five without it), but it’s a nice way to signify H5RC’s friendly mission. Wear the shirt on designated H5RC days (or any other day!) to connect with other club members — or anyone else. With the friendly spirit of the High Five Running Club in mind, smile big and invite fellow running enthusiasts to slap some skin!

Would you wear a H5RC t-shirt while out and about? Let us know what you think in the comments below or tweet the author at @SophBreene.